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Bollywood star and co-owner of one IPL franchisee - Kolkata Knight Riders - has said that it was time for sports in India to become a profession.

"I just felt that with the Indian economy on the threshold (of a giant leap) and with roti, kapda and makan (food, clothing and shelter) having been realised and with entertainment having begun to do very well, it was time for cricket and sports to become a profession," he told a Kolkata-based newspaper after unveiling his team on Tuesday.

"I wouldn't say I'm doing social work, but probably it's a social obligation because I love sports," he told The Telegraph while responding to a question on how he was attracted to the Indian Premier League.

"I am trying to give the IPL my best shot, let's see if I can pull it off," he added.

Asked whether a venture that brought together film stars and cricketers was guaranteed to succeed in India, he said: "I don't look at it that way. I own Kolkata Knight Riders because of the person I am and it has nothing to do with my being an actor. I'm fond of cricket and sports and would like to be associated with a sporting activity."

Shah Rukh said his idols in sport were former India cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar and sprint queen PT Usha. "They did so much to lift the image of Indian sport."

The reigning King of Bollywood said his five top cricketers "not in any order are Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. In more recent years, where players from overseas are concerned, I'd be a big fan of Glenn McGrath."

His other favourite sportsmen are "footballers Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Paolo Rossi and Michel Platini", he said.

King Khan, as he is popularly called, said he was "disappointed" with India missing out on an Olympic qualification, but was even more "disturbed" at the "over-reaction in the media".

The actor, who played the role of a hockey coach in the acclaimed film Chak De India!, said: "Why must we put so much pressure on our sportsmen? Why can't we see this defeat as a lesson and plan for the Olympics after Beijing? Why not aim for gold in London (2012)?

"Surely, sportsmen don't play to lose, but it can happen. You've got to appreciate that sometimes one's best isn't good enough. But that doesn't mean you write the players off," he said.
 
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